Being presented with a dazzling engagement ring can be one of the most exciting moments of a woman’s life – but whilst engagement rings come in all shapes and sizes, a big fat diamond is what your mind conjurs up when you think of classic fairytales, no?

But why? Who first came up with the tradition of diamond rings? Well, we’ve found out, but we warn you – it’s the opposite of romantic.

The first bride to be given a dazzling rock on her engagement finger was the Archduke Maximillian of Austria’s bride-to-be in 1477, according to historic records.

But as Marie Claire reports, this was all part of a marketing ploy thought up by jewellery giant DeBeers back in the 1930s, who first encouraged the giving of diamond rings as a ‘romantic’ statement.



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At the time, massive new diamond mines had been discovered in South Africa, making them somewhat of a common commodity. But DeBeers were keen to convince customers that they were still valuable and sought-after in order to make more money. Sneaky.

DeBeers decided to make the diamond a status symbol in New York, and employed a top advertising firm to spread the word using the slogan ‘A Diamond Is Forever’. And it worked – in the first three years of the campaign,  diamond sales in the US went up by more than 50%.

Within 20 years, 80% of brides were then sporting diamond rocks, with diamonds now seen as the ultimate unbreakable symbol of love.  

While it’s not the most romantic of traditions, we’re not complaining – are you?